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With just six days to go until the big kick-off at the Etihad, Pep Guardiola’s men opened the scoring at Gothenburg’s Ullevi Stadium through Sergio Aguero on the half hour mark before second half goals from Alex Iwobi, Theo Walcott and Chuba Akpom turned the tide in Arsenal’s favour.
Substitute Kelechi Iheanacho reduced the deficit three minutes from time but his side couldn’t find the equaliser despite a late rally.
Evident from the get-go was City’s increased emphasis on pressing and on 17 minutes, the lively Aguero burst to life, riding a couple of challenges before hitting a shot which deflected up into Petr Cech’s arms.
That proved to be a warning shot as City took the lead on the half hour mark when Raheem Sterling produced an inviting deep, swinging cross which split the Arsenal defence and gave Aguero the simplest of finishes from six yards out, making it two goals in two games for the Argentine ace.
Alex Iwobi hit back for the North Londoners four minutes after the interval, curling the ball around second half substitute Joe Hart’s despairing dive following a lightning counter-attack spearheaded by Theo Walcott.
Walcott was the man who completed the turnaround for the Gunners, putting the finishing touches on an incisive move with a delightful dink over Hart and Akpom increased Arsenal’s lead when he capitalised on a defensive error to slot home from close range.
Iheanacho came off the bench to score his first goal of pre-season, heading in a brilliant Jesus Navas cross to make it 3-2, before Jesus Navas and Yaya Toure both had opportunities to equalise in the dying embers of the match but the Gunners held on to clinch their narrow victory.
As can often be the case when rafts of substitutions are made in the second halves of friendly matches, the game became a little more fragmented after City made six changes in four second half minutes.
Before then, the Swedish public had been treated to a game with almost the same level of intensity as your average Premier League encounter and Arsenal seized the initiative just five minutes after the last of these alterations, with Walcott scoring the decisive third goal.
Guardiola won’t be too concerned about these concessions, however, with five days remaining to iron out any wrinkles before Sunderland come to town.
It was tempting to give Fabian Delph the ManCity.com Man of the Match honours for the second pre-season game in a row, thanks to another tireless showing in the midfield engine room, but Raheem Sterling just edged it, thanks to his sublime assist.
Raheem started on the right hand side, as opposed to the left where he often lined up last season, and he ensured a tough afternoon for his opposing full-back Monreal with an exciting, pitch-stretching showing on the flank.
Guardiola has pledged to help Sterling reach his incredible potential and it’s clear the 20-year old’s confidence is returning on the evidence of his first start of pre-season.
Sergio Aguero, Nolito, David Silva and Raheem Sterling all made their first pre-season starts for Pep as part of a senior-looking final pre-season City XI.
Vincent Kompany, Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi all didn’t travel to Sweden and so Fernando and Kolarov were at the heart of an unfamiliar back four with Clichy and Zabaleta on either side, while Delph and Fernandinho started in the centre of midfield.
Arsenal named a strong XI with both of their summer captures, Granit Xhaka and Rob Holding, earning starts, as well as Wales’ Euro 2016 hero Aaron Ramsey and Chilean international Alexis Sanchez.
As is pre-season tradition, both teams made changes after the break with Joe Hart replacing Caballero in the City goal at the interval, while Kevin De Bruyne, Bacary Sagna and Tosin Adarabioyo were three of a number of players introduced by Guardiola as the second half progressed.
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